Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park is probably the most famous safari destination in Africa, and justifiably so. The core of a vast migratory ecosystem that also includes Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Grumeti Game Reserve and Kenya’s Masai Mara, the 5,700-square-mile national park is practically synonymous with the annual migration that crosses its plains in a dust-kicking, bleating column comprising more than a million individual wildebeest and zebra. Even when the migration is elsewhere, however, the Serengeti can be relied upon to offer thrilling wildlife viewing, particularly when it comes to lions and other predators.
Discover the Serengeti
Visit any part of the Serengeti at any time of year and you can expect to see large numbers of ungulates: giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, hartebeest, eland, impala, hippos, warthog, Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelle, and so on. Time it right, and you should also encounter the annual wildebeest migration, which climaxes with the adrenaline-charged crossings of the Grumeti River in the west and Mara in the north.
The Serengeti is second to none when it comes to lions. It is unusual to go a full game drive without seeing at least one of these languidly regal beasts. Prides of 20 or more are a feature of the north, while the southern plains around Seronera is one of the few places where lions are often observed climbing trees.
Other carnivores are well represented too. Cheetahs pace the open plains, leopards laze in the trees that line the Seronera Rover, spotted hyenas lope and sniff around their subterranean dens, and nocturnal specials such as serval, genet, bat-eared fox and African wild cat are occasionally glimpsed on early morning drives.
Wildlife aside, rolling grassland of the Serengeti, punctuated by towering granite inselbergs and forest-fringed rivers, exudes a magnificent, soul-stirring sense of space alluded to in the Maasai word Siringit (‘Endless Plain) from which the its name derives.
Hot-air balloon trips, which leave shortly before sunrise, offer wonderful vulture-eye views over plains tinged gold by the early morning light, and the prolific wildlife that inhabits them.